Affinity Villas Blog



Top Algarve Beaches

The Algarve is famous for its idyllic beaches, boasting approximately 125 miles of dramatic coastline with magnificent golden sandy beaches and tiny rugged coves. Simply look for the sign ‘Praia’, which means ‘beach’ in Portuguese.

There are more than 150 beaches to choose from and they are generally unpolluted and clean, with 88 receiving the Blue Flag award in 2016. Praia do Carvoeiro was named European Best Beach 2018 by online portal European Best Destinations, one of the most visited websites dedicated to tourism in Europe.

Rocky outcrops, another famous feature of the Algarve coastline, create a scenic backdrop to many beaches and charming villages perch on cliff tops overlooking picturesque bays.

Most beaches feature at least one bar or restaurant, usually an ideal setting to sample the excellent seafood, and all are available to the public without charge although small fees may be incurred for the use of sun beds and parasols. Larger beaches often have a wide range of water sports activities and other attractions.

For the more active holidaymaker, there are many walkways, tracks, paths and trails that can be followed, often taking in wonderful ocean views. One of the most popular is the Praia Grande walk, which takes approximately 2 hours, but the rewards are well worth the effort. There is an abundance of bird life, including regular sightings of flamingos and the walk incorporates saltmarsh wetland, coastal lagoon and pine forest.

We’ve picked out 5 of our favourite beaches but there are so many beautiful beaches in the Algarve that it’s hard to choose between them and your preference will be influenced by whether you’re looking for a popular spot with activities or a quiet beach offering a retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Either way, you’re sure to find your piece of paradise on holiday in the Algarve.

Praia do Carvoeiro

This small but beautiful beach features on many picture postcards. Surrounded by the village and high rock formations on both sides, the white terraced houses and colourful fishing boats provide a picturesque backdrop to the sapphire-coloured sea and golden sand. There are plenty of amenities and, being a Blue Flag beach, a seasonal lifeguard service as well as good accessibility features.


Praia Ilha da Tavira

Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island) is near to the town of Tavira. A few minutes’ boat trip will take visitors from the jetty of Tavira, located just outside the town, to this attractive white sandy beach, which is widely considered to be one of the best in the Algarve. The beach stretches for about 12km and may be a little crowded on arrival but as you walk along the sand, it becomes more and more deserted.

Praia dos Tres Irmaos and Praia de Alvor

A restaurant serves as a border between Praia de Alvor on the west and Praia dos Tres Irmaos to the east but it is, in effect, one long beach with plenty of facilities and easy access. The ‘Three Brothers’ rock formations create secluded beaches on the eastern side. The sand feels soft underfoot and relaxation is easy, listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks. There are no cliffs so there is no natural shade but it is a very popular beach for windsurfers, being very exposed to the elements.

Praia da Bordeira

This vast and beautiful beach is located on the West side of the Algarve and is easy to get to by travelling north from Vila do Bispo. It is mostly sandy, not rocky as some pictures suggest and has a small river running into the sea at one side, which is especially enjoyed by children. The beach is too long to ever become crowded and is virtually deserted out of season. It can be a little windy, which is perfect for surfers, but the sand dunes offer shelter if needed.


Praia da Falesia

A quiet, non-commercial beach accessed by more than 120 wooden steps leading down from the car park. The views from the cliff tops are stunning and the multi-coloured sandstone cliffs dramatic. There are no facilities so bring some water and something to eat, spread out a beach mat or towel and soak up the glorious sunshine and scenery in the peace and quiet.

Algarve Useful Information Before You Travel

Our passion is the Algarve, therefore, whether you are a loyal customer of Affinity Villas or a holidaymaker visiting this wonderful region in Portugal for the first time, our comprehensive travel guide will certainly help you enjoy your trip. Below is Algarve information at a glance covering car hire, climate, driving, restaurant tipping etiquette, insurance, emergency assistance and more.

PASSPORT INFORMATION

British Citizens require a passport for travel to Portugal and it should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. Children under the age of 18 and infants must travel with their own passports and must either be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or be met at the airport or point of entry by a parent or guardian, or if not accompanied by parent or guardian, carry a letter of authorisation to travel from that parent or guardian. The letter should name the adult in Portugal who will be responsible for the child during their stay. All other nationalities should check with their Embassy for entry requirements.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is strongly advised that you take out adequate travel insurance to ensure that all members of your party, including yourself are covered should the unexpected happen. It is your responsibility to ensure any policy meets your needs, including the cost of cancellation by you and assistance overseas if you suffer accident or illness. Even with travel insurance, all individuals in your party should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Please take this and your travel insurance policy with you on holiday.

CAR HIRE

If you are hiring a car in Portugal, please remember to take your current driving licence, a valid credit card and a spare pair of glasses if you usually wear prescription lenses when driving.


In Resort

CLIMATE




MONEY

The official currency is the Euro. A small amount of Euros will be useful but please remember most insurance companies will often only cover up to the equivalent of £200 in the event of loss or theft. Most towns have cash point machines and credit, charge or debit cards are widely accepted. It is advisable to check that your preferred payment method is accepted before attempting to make a purchase.

ELECTRICITY

The voltage is 220 Volts. You will need a European plug with two circular metal pins. LANGUAGE The official language is Portuguese, although English is widely spoken and understood.

TIPPING

Tipping is discretionary but as a general rule 10% in a restaurant, a few small coins from your change in a bar or café.


Driving in Portugal

HIGHWAY CODE

The rules of the road in Portugal are similar as in most other European countries and penalties for speeding, driving under the influence of drink or drugs, the use of mobile phones whilst driving and illegal parking are heavy. Special importance is also given to the use of child safety seats and seat belts in the rear of the vehicle.

✦ The Portuguese drive on the right hand side of the road, give priority to the left and overtake on the left.

✦ Seatbelt use is compulsory in the front and rear of all cars.

✦ Children under 12 years of age must travel in the rear of a car.

✦ Babies and children under 12 years of age and/or under 1.5m tall must use an approved child or baby seat.

✦ Non-European licences must be accompanied with an International Driving Permit.

✦ Driving licence, passport and vehicle documentation should be carried at all times.

✦ Traffic police can legally carry out spot checks and ‘on-thespot’ fines can be imposed.

SPEED LIMITS

Built-up areas 50 kph / 31 mph

Major roads outside towns 90 kph / 56 mph

Motorways 120 kph / 74 mph

PARKING

Do not park your hire car within 18 metres of a road junction, 15 metres of a bus stop or within 3 metres of a tram or bus stop as it is against regulations and could incur a fine. Be sure to park your car in the same direction as the traffic moving on your side of the road. Do not leave any valuables in the car, and nothing whatsoever on display inside as hire cars are often targeted by opportunistic thieves!

DRINKING

The blood/alcohol limit in Portugal is 0.05%, which is lower than the UK. A blood/alcohol reading of more than 0.12% will result in imprisonment. DO NOT drink and drive!


ACCIDENTS

All accidents must be reported to the police and to your hire car company immediately. Take the full name, address, car registration and insurance details of anyone else involved and under no circumstances should you admit liability or pay any money. It is important not to move the car until instructed to do so by the police. A warning triangle should be provided and must be placed in the road at least 30 metres behind the vehicle. It is also compulsory to wear a yellow reflective jacket while waiting for assistance, even in daylight.

TOLL ROAD

The A22, which stretches the length of the Algarve, is a toll road and your journey may well include driving on this road. The tolls work by capturing the number plate of each car that passes under the gantry’s which are located at intervals along the motorway.

Many hire cars are equipped with the automatic charging boxes fixed in the cars which will report the tolls with payment deducted from your credit card. Please make sure you understand how you will be charged with your car hire company. Heavy fines are imposed for those who do not or cannot pay toll fees.

Emergency Assistance

In case of emergency call 112 from any phone, this includes your UK mobile phone. You should also have 24-hour emergency numbers provided by your travel insurer. In the event of credit or debit card theft, it’s a good idea to bring along bank or other insurer phone numbers. As is the case globally, mobile phones are often innocently lost or in some cases stolen, again, it’s worth collating phone provider information to block phones should these events occur.

BRITISH EMBASSY

In the event that you lose your passport or serious medical emergency, the location of the nearest British Embassy is Lisbon. Please see address and phone number listed below.

Rua de São Bernardo 33, Lisbon 1249-082, 00 351 21 392 4000

Five of The Best but Mostly Unknown Places to Visit in the Algarve

There are several towns and resorts in the Algarve that attract countless tourists on a daily basis. However, the best places to visit in the area are relatively unknown, yet still close to popular tourist destinations. We hope you find our selection of places to visit useful should you be travelling to the Algarve.

1. Alcoutim

The Algarve is home to several barely populated villages. They offer some of the best places to visit if you're interested in a quick peek at what the Algarve used to be like many years ago. Even the rural drive to Alcoutim feels completely different to the rest of the Algarve’s main roads and yet it is incredibly beautiful thanks to the nearby Guadiana River.

Alcoutim is an exceptional find if you love historic tourism and culture. The town was originally used by Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. It is still populated with ancient architecture, including a castle built during the 14th century. Conversely if you're a thrill seeker, you can take a zip line across the river from Portugal to Spain. It's the only zip line in the world that crosses country borders, a large river and time zones.

2. Vila Real De Santo Antonio

This hidden village is very near to Alcoutim and is worth visiting if you are already in the area. It also happens to be extremely close to Spain. There are as almost as many residents here who speak Spanish as those who speak Portuguese.

There are several interesting tourist attractions worth visiting. They include the Praca Marques de Pombal and the Arquivo Historico Municipal. You can also hop on a ferry and visit the nearby Spanish village of Ayamonte. The ferry ride is about twenty minutes across the Guadiana River, which is a fun experience by itself.

3. Sagres

Sagres is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in all of Algarve as well as the rest of Portugal. Where other towns in the area are known for their rich and diverse histories, Sagres is known for its sparsely populated beaches and relaxed atmosphere. It's an ideal place to visit if you want to enjoy the surf, but without bumping into too many tourists.

This stunning town is also home to three large beaches that are all within a short walking distance of the village. Of the three beaches, the most popular is Praia da Mareta because it offers shelter from strong winds while still providing medium-to-large surfing waves. If you are interested in the more secluded beaches, then the nearby Praia da Baleeira may be more your style.

Aside from the beaches and the village itself, there is one other tourist attraction that is worth exploring while in Sagres. It is the Fortaleza de Sagres, an old Fort with only a single defensive wall. The other sides of the Fort are guarded by the cliffs themselves. Most people wouldn't visit Sagres for the Fort alone, however, it’s a welcome distraction from the beach for those interested in local history.


4. Serra De Monchique

Many of the best spots in the Algarve are known for their nearby beaches or rivers, but not Serra de Monchique. Instead, the area is filled with a mountain range that offers some of the best views in all of Portugal. There are several trails that adventurous tourists can hike. One trail reaches 900 meters, which is the highest point in all of the Algarve. You can even see Sagres on some days if the weather is clear.

For those who like exploring, you can make the small village of Monchique your resting point before branching out to visit the surrounding areas. Given the location, it’s a quiet town but nonetheless has several cafes, restaurants and even a spa to relax in.

5. Portimao

The final hidden gem in the Algarve is Portimao. This town has a combination of all the things that make a great tourist village. It has history, several great attractions and it is surrounded by beautiful water. Unlike previous villages mentioned in the Algarve, Portimao offers a more urban atmosphere.

While in Portimao you can visit a historical theatre or spend time in a museum that has won several awards. Its popularity is proven by the arrival of several cruise ships that regularly visit the town in the height of summer sending an influx of tourists for a few hours at a time. There's also a nearby artificial reef that is perfect for fans of diving.


Do you prefer to surf on secluded beaches? What about hiking through mountain trails that overlook much of the region? If visiting the Algarve’s historic and cultural attractions more to your taste? These largely unspoilt destinations in the Algarve have a lot to offer and you won't have to worry about bumping into many other tourists.

The Best Algarve Events For 2018

As always, the Algarve events programme for 2018 is packed with a fantastic host of annual festivals and events, including the Portugal Rally, the Mardi Gras Carnival, and the renowned Portugal Masters. There is something for everyone from sizzling summer beach parties to medieval fairs and famous food festivals. Therefore, if you have not yet booked your villa holiday this year, the listed events below might just influence what time of year you choose to visit.

March

Traditional Sausage Fair, Monchique

This is where you can sample products made from every part of the notorious black pig as well as Medronho, the strawberry tree liqueur from the charming mountain town of Monchique.


Feira do Pão Quente e Queijo Fresco, Vaqueiros is the festival of fresh cheese and hot bread and the Gastronomy Festival of Serra, Tavira takes place from the end of March to April.

April

Rally of Portugal

Named on 5 different occasions as the Best Rally in the World, the Rally of Portugal celebrated its 50th-anniversary last year. The base for the event is the Algarve Stadium with superb stages at the start and end of the rally with lots of narrow gravel tracks and blind crests to challenge the skills of the drivers.

Liberation Day, April 25th is always an opportunity for entertainment with fireworks, music, and fantastic events in towns across the Algarve.

Easter Events take place across the region with traditional festivals like the Folar Fairs where the traditional ‘folar’ Easter cakes are on display, complete with unshelled hard-boiled eggs on top!


The Flower Torches Festival takes place on Easter Sunday in São Brás de Alportel and the traditional 'Festa Pequena', (The Feast of the Sovereign Mother) takes place in Loulé.

On Palm Sunday the Triumphal Procession takes place in Tavira, a religious event from the 18th century started by the Carmelite Order of Tavira. It is a spectacular parade of litters decorated with gilt woodwork and images of Christ depicting his life from the Mount of Olives to the Cross.

May

May Day celebrations include several festivals to celebrate spring with music and dancing and a chance to view the traditional skills of the region in bobbin lace, embroidery, basketwork, and esparto grass weaving.

The magnificent international Sand Sculpture Festival takes place at Pêra from May to October with a different theme each year.

June

Saints Festivals take place all over the region in June where the smells of grilled sardines from barbecues waft over the villages and towns and on warm nights partying continues until the small hours of the morning.

Food, food, and more food are of the order in June with a week of Portuguese gastronomy in Lagoa, the Caldeirada Fish Festival in Armação de Pêra, and Pleasures of the Sea in Aljezur.

July

The Algarve International Motorbike meeting takes place in Faro where thousands of motorbike enthusiasts from all over the world gather to view the latest innovations in biking.

August

FATACIL is a major handicraft, agriculture, tourism, and business fair held in Lagoa that includes exciting horse shows and evening entertainment.

The Sardine Festival is held in Portimão with barbecued sardines, live music, and entertainment.


Medieval fairs are held in Silves and Castro Marim and the Shellfish Festival in Olhão is a popular event with live music that keeps revelers up all night.

September

The Fisherman’s Festival is a gastronomy feast held in Albufeira where you can indulge to your heart's content in freshly caught seafood.

October

Fairground rides at Santa Iria Fair in Faro has lots of thrills and entertainment for everyone.

The renowned Portuguese Master's golf tournament in Vilamoura takes place at the longest 18-hole course in the country and attracts thousands of golf enthusiasts.

Eight New Villa Properties Available to book in Algarve for 2018


Affinity Villas are pleased to announce a selection of new villas which are available to book now, please see details below.

Casa Marianna in Carvoeiro

This is a spacious 4 bedroom villa with established garden, private pool and children’s play area. It is ideally situated with the beach, restaurants and a small supermarket close by. For more information, click here.